Mandela Wins IMF Pledge of $850 Million : South Africa: The ANC leader’s plea to end economic sanctions is met by swift action in West.
Nelson Mandela, president of the African National Congress, won a pledge Saturday for $850 million in IMF aid, securing badly needed funds for South Africa’s troubled economy.
Treated like a head of state, Mandela found that his plea to tear down economic sanctions against South Africa was being met with swift action in the West.
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Michel Camdessus said after meeting Mandela that he is eager to channel within days the first multilateral assistance to South Africa since sanctions were erected in the early 1980s.
“I look forward in the following days to the preparation of the first disbursement from the IMF to compensate for the dramatic drop in exports,” Camdessus said.
Mandela told the United Nations on Friday that it is time to repeal sanctions against South Africa as the country moves toward full democracy and all-race elections next April.
While the United States and the European Community have already lifted most restrictions on trade, the appeal from Mandela--who spent 27 years in jail for his opposition to apartheid--clears the way for badly needed investment.
The United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand said they would comply with Mandela’s plea to end sanctions. The Commonwealth, a 50-nation grouping of former British colonies, recommended scrapping trade sanctions.
Camdessus said that the $850 million would go toward balance-of-payments assistance, giving South Africa desperately needed funds to finance imports.
Camdessus said the new South Africa will face “formidable challenges” in restructuring its economy, but added that he and the ANC “agree totally on the principles of recovery.”
ANC officials said they intend to keep international financial agencies at arm’s length, despite the billions of dollars that they could offer to rebuild South Africa’s ravaged economy.
Trevor Manuel, the ANC’s chief economist, said that while the ANC agrees on the need for fiscal discipline--a condition for most multilateral aid--South Africa first must address appalling poverty and unemployment.
“We should not sacrifice our sovereignty, nor should we ignore the needs of the majority of our people,” Manuel said at a news briefing.
He said he also wants to avoid having South Africa become deeply indebted to foreign banks, as many African countries have done.
Meanwhile, South African President Frederik W. de Klerk said Saturday that his country’s “irreversible” march to multiracial rule will prove meaningless unless it is matched by robust economic growth that lifts all its people.
In a speech to the World Economic Development Congress here, De Klerk appealed for the international financial help and corporate investment that he said is needed to fully develop South Africa’s rich natural resources.
De Klerk outlined the steps he said will be taken over the next five years to give power to South Africa’s black majority.
“Political change and carefully constructed constitutions are, however, not enough,” De Klerk said. “Unless it is accompanied by sustained economic growth, political emancipation can result in a charade which benefits only a small group with direct access to the levers of power.”
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